Best-known for his 1979 number one hit "Sad Eyes," pop singer Robert John actually charted for the first time in 1958 as a doo wop singer, giving him one of the longest spans ever between an artist's chart debut and first number one single.
John was born Robert John Pedrick Jr. in Brooklyn in 1946; armed with a distinctively high tenor voice, he first recorded for Big Top at age 12, billed as Bobby Pedrick. His debut single, "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes," charted in 1958, as did the follow-up "Pajama Party" early the next year. Pedrick shuffled between at least seven labels over the course of the '60s, recording a few singles along the way that failed to match his earlier success. He led the short-lived group Bobby & the Consoles in 1963, and also moonlighted as a record producer, helming an obscure folk-pop single by the Carousel in 1967; the following year, he began billing himself as Robert John. In 1971, he signed with Atlantic and soon landed a Top Ten smash with a remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," which showed that the vocal range of his youth hadn't changed much; no more hits appeared to be forthcoming, though, and John was sent packing. In 1979, he resurfaced on EMI with the album Night Songs, and late that year, the smooth pop ballad "Sad Eyes" went all the way to number one. No follow-up proved nearly as popular and John resumed his nomadic career path; his last chart single came in 1983 with a remake of "Bread and Butter" on Motown. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi